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AREA NOTEBOOK: For a change, there's a new 8A wrestling favorite

For the past 11 seasons, Frazee has met Greenbush-Middle River-Badger in the championship of the Minnesota Section 8A dual wrestling tournament. This season, if they meet, it will be to get to the championship.

For the past 11 seasons, Frazee has met Greenbush-Middle River-Badger in the championship of the Minnesota Section 8A dual wrestling tournament. This season, if they meet, it will be to get to the championship.

Barnesville takes the No. 1 seed into the 8A dual tournament, which will be held Saturday in Fertile. Frazee is seeded second and the Gators third in the nine-team field, so the two perennial powers would meet in the semifinals if they win their quarterfinal duals.

"It's a different situation for us," G-MR-B coach Todd Bergeron said. "Being a third seed, we're an underdog. We've done just fine this year. It's just that the section is so strong.

"This is a year Barnesville has been building for. They have seven seniors and six juniors in their lineup. They've been on a roll. And Frazee is where they usually are; they're ranked second in the state for a reason."

The Gators are 11-2, with their losses by 11 points to Barnesville and 10 points to Frazee.

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"We lost a couple of close matches," Bergeron said of the dual losses. "If we can turn those around, those are six-point swings. And we have to stay away from giving up the pins and those bonus points. We know that, if we're wrestling at our best, we can stay with anybody."

Frazee is defending champion and has won eight of the last 11 section titles, with the Gators capturing the remaining three, the last in 2005.

Hibbing still 8AA team to beat

Hibbing qualified for the Section 8AA dual wrestling semifinals by shutting out Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena 74-0 in the East Subsection 8AA semifinals. But that lopsided win doesn't tell the whole story.

According to Thief River Falls coach Kenny Geiser, the West Subsection 8AA had more of a balanced look, while Hibbing was clearly the dominant team in the east. Thief River Falls edged Mahnomen-Waubun in Tuesday's 8AA West semifinals 35-32, while Roseau beat Crookston - a team it lost to just last week - by 45-28 to get the west's other 8AA semifinal berth.

"Overall, depth-wise the west is stronger than the east this year," said Geiser, whose Prowlers handed Blackduck/CL-B a 60-6 regular-season loss. "But Hibbing is still the favorite. I think they're probably the best team."

The 8AA dual tournament will be Friday in Fosston, with semifinals at 6 p.m., followed by the championship. Roseau meets Hibbing in one semifinal, while the Prowlers wrestle Deer River-Northland in the other.

What would it take to beat Hibbing, the defending 8AA champion? Hibbing beat Thief River Falls 33-24 in mid-January in a dual in which each team won seven matches.

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"Hibbing doesn't give up many pins," Geiser said. "They're the kings of that. And they're good at getting those bonus points with their own pins. We didn't get a pin against them - it's been a long time since that's happened. I think that whoever wrestles Hibbing, it will come down to which team gets the most pins."

Koivisto wins 400th

Rick Koivisto registered the 400th win of his girls basketball coaching career Tuesday when Red Lake County Central defeated Fertile-Beltrami 73-44.

The 54-year-old Koivisto has a 400-293 mark in 30 seasons. He's been with the same program his entire coaching career, coaching at Plummer for 10 seasons, then the last 20 when Plummer entered the RLCC co-op.

"A friend of mine told me it's a milestone that shows you're getting old," Koivisto said.

"I haven't made one basket in those wins. It's the players who have done the job. I hope (the 400 wins) is a combination of having good players and me knowing a little something about the game. I think the majority of those years, we've had winning records. For a small school - we've always been a smaller school - we have been pretty consistent."

Koivisto has taken two teams as far as the section tournament playoff semifinals before being eliminated. "I'd rather see our team get to the state tournament. That's what we've always been striving for," Koivisto said.

Klasen reaches 1,000 points

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Versatile senior Kyle Klasen of Marshall County Central has reached the 1,000-point mark for his boys basketball career.

The 6-foot-1 guard scored 24 against Roseau last week, giving him 1,009 points. He's currently at 1,043.

Klasen averages 21.6 points this season. His averages also include 3.6 three-point baskets, 5.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists for the 17-5 Nordics, who have won their last 10 games.

"Kyle is a competitor," Marshall County Central coach Jake Rantanen said. "He's always been a good three-point shooter. And he's one of the few kids you see with a good 10- to 12-foot jump shot. He's improved his ability to penetrate this season. Defenses really focus on him; it would be easy to get frustrated, but he'll make the good passes."

Briefly

Kyle Iverson of Thief River Falls has registered the 100th win of his wrestling career. . . . All-state senior linemen Kyler Harder of Lakota and Larimore's James Sletten and Tim Schempp have signed letters of intent to play football at Valley City State. . . . Area athletes who have signed letters of intent to play football at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton include Paul Meyer of North Border, Aaron Delvo of Central Valley and Langdon's Derek Maag and David Olson. . . . Caleb Loy of Hatton-Northwood and Mike Molina of Larimore have signed letters of intent to play football at Mayville State. . . . Ashley Haines of North Dakota Class B state champion Hillsboro and Tara Thompson, who played on 2005 state champion Thompson, have signed letters of intent to play volleyball at Valley City State. . . . Bagley senior Luke Knutson has signed a letter of intent to play football at Bemidji State. . . . Crookston junior Kamille Wahlin opened the girls basketball season by hitting 47 consecutive free throws. She missed her first free throw of the season Tuesday against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.

DeVillers can be reached at (800) 477-6572, ext. 128, (701) 780-1128 or by e-mail at gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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